Leading article: Distasteful, but unavoidable, talks with the Taliban

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The Independent Online

That the Afghan government may have agreed to meet representatives of the Taliban to discuss peace terms is to be applauded. While it is distasteful to deal with a group that ran so viciously brutal and repressive a regime – and would do so again – the unavoidable lesson from history is that talking is the only reasonable road to resolution. It is negotiation, not military might, which brings insurgency to a peaceable end.

There is plenty, of course, that could still go wrong. Until now, the Taliban has refused to recognise the Kabul government's legitimacy, even while establishing an office in Qatar from which to conduct international negotiations. And the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has resented apparent high-handedness in US and Qatari efforts to start talks. But the possibility that meetings between the two sides could take place in Saudi Arabia in a matter of weeks, while unpalatable, is nonetheless a sign of progress.

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